Where Do Brown Recluse Spiders Live?

Because brown recluse spiders are solitary and secretive, it can prove difficult to locate their dwellings. Almost any dark, undisturbed area can serve as harborage for brown recluse spiders. In nature, these spiders can be found beneath rocks and logs.

However, human-altered environments provide better conditions to brown recluse spiders than these natural settings. Brown recluse spiders may live inside boxes, clothing, shoes, furniture, bedding, rubber tires and other dry, dark, warm locations. Storage areas such as closets, basements and cellars are commonly inhabited. Because of their high reproductive potential, it is more common to find many of these spiders than to find just one.

Geographic Range
Presently, the known range of the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) extends from Nebraska to Ohio and across the south from Texas to Florida. It is native to the United States, unlike other pest spiders such as the brown widow or yellow sac spider. Concentrations of recluses are greatest in the central part of their range where hundreds or even thousands may be found in a single structure. Although brown recluse bites are claimed in states outside of these regions, these bites, as well as those from within the recluse’s range, are most commonly a result of other medically related causes such as bacterial infections of the skin.

Due to its penchant for hiding in dark areas such as boxes, transportation of recluses can happen. Indeed, there are recorded instances of single buildings outside their recluse range where recluses were accidently brought in through relocated items.

Brown Recluse vs Desert Recluse
Contrary to popular belief, brown recluse spiders are not native to California. There are other recluse spiders in California. A specimen collected from the California desert is most likely a desert recluse spider (Loxosceles deserta). The most common of Californian recluse spiders, the desert recluse is found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. The desert recluse is found in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. As with brown recluses, desert recluses are known to have necrotic venom.

Due to their aesthetic likenesses, desert recluse spiders are often mistakenly identified as brown recluse spiders. Desert recluse spiders also have only six eyes, as opposed to the eight eyes present on most other spider species. Like the brown recluse, these eyes are arranged in three pairs known as dyads. Desert recluses are generally sandy or tan in color, with light brown abdomens. The characteristic fiddle shape of the brown recluse also is present on the body of the desert recluse.